We had the good fortune of connecting with Alexia Bregman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alexia, how do you think about risk?
I love the concept of risk. In my Vuka coaching business I’d say that perceived risk and fear are two of the greatest barriers to people moving forward in their businesses and lives. And I am highly aware of the fact that I don’t see risk in the same way as others. I’ve always been a risk taker – I moved from my native South Africa to a completely unknown country and society (shoutout to my Denver peeps!). I started a business in 2008 at the bottom of a recession in an industry littered with brands that hadn’t made it. I’m currently running three new businesses and am in school trying to finish the degree I took a risk and left in the 90’s. I’m learning to surf, which at 47 is risky! But I truly believe that risk is more perception than reality – when you look at all aspects of something, like a business concept for example, and you do your due diligence looking at the landscape, examining the finances and the opportunity, that’s when risk and excitement become one and the same thing. I talk about that in surfing a lot – that fear and excitement are experienced in the body the same way – your heart rate elevates, your breathing becomes more rapid, levels of glucose in the blood spike – and you get to decide whether you’re going to experience that as fear or excitement. That’s how I look at risk.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
In 2008 my husband and I started Vuka Energy Drinks from a blank piece of paper. Neither of us had any experience in beverage manufacturing but we had a really clear idea of what we wanted. Everything we’ve learnt over the past 12 years has been through trial and error. I think we’ve been fortunate because when I look back there might have been some missteps along the way, but nothing catastrophic. Maybe it has been a good pinch of skills, analysis and blind good luck! I do think that there’s something to being completely new in an industry though – I’ve spoken to so many industry veterans who believe that things need to be run in a certain way, and I think our incredible advantage is that we didn’t come in with any of that baggage. What’s really interesting to me is that both my husband and I never completed college (although I’m back and would love to graduate before I’m 50!) and we both learn by diving in. My favorite saying (which should really be my next tattoo – I have 7) is “Leap and build your wings on the way down”. The challenges have always been being the tiny guy in an industry of mammoth brands like Monster and Red Bull. We have been kicked off production lines, moved off shelf and will never have the kind of marketing budgets that can make a dent. But that has made us so much more crafty and innovative. I’m a sales person’s worst nightmare – I worked in the advertising industry and as a marketing veteran I can pretty much see though any nonsense offer. I won’t spend a penny if I don’t think it’s worth it and I’m a great believer in finding an alternative way to do things. But after all of these years we’re still out there. I have some customers who have been buying our product for over 10 years and won’t drink anything else! I recently offered our top selling flavor online and sold out in 27 minutes. I took over the company at the end of 2018 so that Darian could focus on other interests, and it does feel different being a woman owned brand. I think I bring a different sensibility to the company – my roots are in creativity and I’m very customer facing. I love to have a personal relationship with everyone I work with, and I literally answer every customer email myself. I get a LOT of emails! I know that I’m truly an entrepreneur at heart – I’ve sold three other businesses in the toy, sports apparel and triathlon industry – completely diverse, and I’m now building two brands in the surf industry – Salt & Reverie Fins and The Surf Sherpa which makes surfboard carriers, covers and hats – I really believe in working where your passion intersects your abilities, and my 3rd new business is Vuka Coaching – I mainly work with women who are a different levels of their business development or careers, and I absolutely love being able to share my knowledge and expertise. I have 12 years of hands on experience and I am able to go up to 40000 and look at someone’s business or concept and see what it is they need and where they need to go. It’s enormously fulfilling.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We live in Leucadia so our lives are focused around the beach, so any visitor is taken on a walk from South Ponto to Moonlight and back. Beach picnics are literally one of my favorite things ever and have been our saving grace during the quarantine – Friday nights on Grandview Beach (check the tides!) with chairs spaced 6ft apart – bliss! Food wise, a can’t miss is The Taco Stand in Encinitas, and along that strip a Monk Bowl from East Asian Village Diner never fails to satisfy. Hagos Tacos and Moonage Food, both in Leucadia will always delight. I’m a fan of Jeune et Jolie in Carlsbad and Richard Blais’ Juniper and Ivy is still one of my favorite restaurants. We’re so lucky to have Kettner Exchange and Born and Raised. But hands down the best food I’ve eaten in San Diego is at Kindred in South Park – the most delicious drool-worthy vegan fare and death-metal make for an unbelievably memorable dining experience. I’m a horribly bad but extremely devoted hip-hop dancer and San Diego is home to Culture Shock Dance Center – visitors are often coerced into taking Anthony Rodriguez’s Cardio Hip-Hop class with me – you’ll walk out sweaty and with a new swagger guaranteed. There is nothing more fun. We’re also enormous fans of The Young Lions Jazz Conservatory housed at Liberty Station (another can’t miss) and run by the inimitable Gilbert Castellanos whose gigs at Panama 66 at the San Diego Museum of Art offer nights of mind-blowing jazz.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shoutout goes to my 4 people – My husband Darian and my 3 kids: Mia, Maxim and Milan. They support and embrace my craziness 100% of the time.